Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Richard Wilbur

David Mason reviews Richard Wilbur’s Collected Poems, 1943-2004 for The Weekly Standard. For Wilbur, now 83, Mason says "being is a blind delight, unsolvable but worth living through." He writes that "What you get from Wilbur is small-scale refinement--and a lifetime of such lyric-making turns out to be more substantial than it may have first appeared." Mason points to this "transcendent lyric" by Wilbur, a homage to his wife of sixty years:

We are denied, my love, their fine tristesse/
And bittersweet regrets, and cannot share/
The frequent vistas of their large despair,/
Where love and all are swept to nothingness;/
Still, there’s a certain scope in that long love/
Which constant spirits are the keepers of,/
And which, though taken to be tame and staid,/
Is a wild sostenuto of the heart,/
A passion joined to courtesy and art/
Which has the quality of something made,/
Like a good fiddle, like the rose’s scent,/
Like a rose window or the firmament.

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